Conway sculptor Finton Shaw was champion of the arts

Conway lost a champion of the arts on Sunday with the passing of Finton Shaw, 65, a self-taught ironworker whose striking artwork filled his sculpture garden near Cadron Creek, drawing fans and critics alike.

 

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Roller-McNutt Funeral Home.

Shaw urged the city to draw on and encourage its many artists to create a cultural atmosphere.

“Art stimulates and teaches tolerance,” he said in 2002 as he was organizing a group of artists.

“It can have a healing effect or it can create food for thought. Yes, some people may be enraged by it, but at least it will shock them in addressing an issue.”

Shaw came to the aid of his good friend and retired UCA art professor Gene Hatfield when sculptures and parts for sculptures in the making filled Hatfield’s lawn. The collection was criticized by neighbors and ruled a violation of city code, ending in a fine for Hatfield.

Shaw appeared before the Conway City Council in support of Hatfield and was among more than 200 supporters rallying at Hatfield’s home, signing a petition asking Conway officials to drop the $250 fine.

“Finton was an enigma and a titan in the art of sculpture,” Hatfield said. “He was well-read, independent of criticism and the critics of his work.

“His emphasis on sexuality, criticised by some, focused on the importance of human relationships and our penchant to immoralize them,” Hatfield said.

Shaw sculpted a bust of Hatfield that is now in the library at the University of Central Arkansas.

A bust of former President Bill Clinton by Shaw was incomplete at Shaw’s death, Hatfield said.

Artist and former gallery owner Roberta Coyne said she had a great deal of respect for Shaw as a person and an artist.

He was one of the artists represented in the gallery she operated on Oak Street.

“He was at every opening, greeting the public and other artists. He opened up the world of art for those who might not have been exposed to the arts. His passing is a real loss for the world.”